Many women who experience so called “morning sickness” will very quickly discover that nausea can occur at any time of the day, not just in the morning. Not only is every woman different, but so is each pregnancy. Morning sickness doesn’t occur for every woman, and there isn’t a one size fits all remedy. The good news though, is that there are things you can do. The trick is to find out what works for you.
Around half to two-thirds of all pregnant women will experience morning sickness to some degree, particularly in the first trimester. Symptoms of morning sickness often begin by the 4th or 6th week and last throughout the first trimester of pregnancy. Most women find that the nausea settles down by about the 12th to 16th week of pregnancy.
Although morning sickness often feels like an unnecessary hindrance, it may make you feel better to know that it may be there to help protect the baby, by preventing mum from eating anything that may harm the foetus or cause you to come down with a stomach bug.
The exact causes of morning sickness remain a mystery, but it is thought a combination of physical and metabolic factors play a significant role, and more specifically is due to the massive hormonal changes which are taking place. The most popular theory is that morning sickness is the body’s reactions to the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is produced at higher levels during the first trimester than at any other time during pregnancy. Other contributing factors are thought to be high levels of oestrogen, fluctuations in blood pressure, altered metabolism of carbohydrates and the significant physical and chemical changes that pregnancy triggers.
There are a number of factors that may play a role in helping to relieve the symptoms of morning sickness. Nausea tends to be worse when you are tired or hungry, and often in response to strong smells or tastes. Eating small, regular, nutritious meals and snacks is a good place to start as it keeps the blood sugar levels stable. Although it may be tempting to reach for the refined, sugary snacks you crave, it is important to opt for healthier, high protein options and complex carbohydrates such as nuts and seeds, beans and pulses, whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits.
Keeping well hydrated with filtered water, mineral water and ginger tea, whilst avoiding caffeinated and sugary beverages will also help to ward off the nausea.
Tiredness, emotional stress and anxiety may contribute to the intensity of your morning sickness. Making an effort to get to bed early and having a nap in the day if possible is important, especially in the first trimester where extreme tiredness and exhaustion is more pronounced. Keep the stress levels at bay with regular exercise such as walking, yoga, pilates or swimming. Meditation, massage, deep breathing and relaxation exercises may also be beneficial.
There are also a number of natural remedies including vitamins, herbal medicines and homeopathics which can help give you relief from the symptoms of morning sickness – your naturopath can ascertain which ones are specific to your own individual pregnancy needs.
Most importantly listen to your body, eat intuitively, rest, move and nurture yourself – and remember that for most women nausea will come to an end after the first trimester, so you can get on with enjoying your pregnancy, not enduring it.